We are now First College! As you have seen in your email, President Eisgruber and the Trustees of Princeton University have decided to rename Wilson College as First College, and also to rename the school of public policy. This is an important step in acknowledging and rejecting Woodrow Wilson’s racist legacy and in making our community one where everyone may feel truly at home.
Our college was indeed the first of the residential colleges at Princeton, founded by a group of students expressly to be an inclusive community. I encourage you to take a look again at the history of the college: students established our community, and drew the template for the Princeton residential college system. I have always found that part of our history very inspiring. Those values of inclusion and social justice still continue, and will continue to inform our community ideals and practices.
For many in our community, the association with Wilson’s name has been a constant reminder of exclusionary practices. This renaming has been a long time coming and would not have happened without our students: from the 2015 Black Justice League protesters to the many other students and members of our community who have worked for change, who participated in protests, engaged in conversations, and crafted op-ed pieces. This moment in the life of our college marks a step on a road to justice and equity for Black Princetonians and other people of color.
In this Corona-virus crisis with its many complications, we cannot today celebrate this occasion in person. But we will find ways to mark this moment, to reflect on our history and look forward to the future, online and when we can all be back together safely on campus.
As always, I welcome your input and thoughts as we continue, under our motto: “Founded by Students for Students.” I look forward to moving into this new chapter of our community together.
Head of First College
Professor of Religion
Chair, Committee for the Study of Late Antiquity
Pronouns: she, her, hers